Chris Naish: Light a Cigarette Album Review

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Chris Naish
Light a Cigarette EP
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: November 2011
Our Rating:

Track Listing:
1. Be The Road
2. Empty Pockets
3. Never Stop
4. Light A Cigarette
5. In The Ground
6. See New York

Canada’s own folk/garage musician Chris Naish is like an unpolished but louder Bright Eyes. A true story teller whose convincing songs make you sympathetic with just one listen.

“I try hard to let go, but you can’t do nothing with your hands closed.” Opening track, “Be The Road,” introduces us into a raw sound that is so unheard of these days. Right off, a beautiful harmonica intro flows into a sort of existential realization. “Looking at my life like looking at a movie…I wanna walk right and I do mean truly.” This natural, raw, surprising, yet passionate sound reels you in. The smart lyrics and a unique sound keep me intrigued. Things I don’t expect to happen in the song, happen and it somehow works for Naish. The unforgettable harmonica pulsates throughout the song in pieces and pulls you back into reality after falling into the melancholy world “Be The Road” creates. “Death is a valley with no shadow, locked in a house with nowhere to go.” The song ends with Chris Naish hammering on the vocals, beating out the final few lines with an emotional goodbye.

“My empty pockets cannot fill your heart.” “Empty Pockets” instantly puts you into a sad state of mind with its emotional outpour of lost love, a case of the workman’s woes, and sad realizations. “Never Stop” takes on a slight Cage the Elephant sound and continues with the surprises. The upbeat tempo and the hip hop/rap essence of the song is strange yet amusing. You hear Chris in the beginning asking, “Are we good to go?” For some reason these comments artists sometimes leave in their songs make it a more enjoyable experience, for me at least. The guitar takes a backseat to the quick and clever vocals. The chorus takes you on a quirky ride that has you catch yourself tapping your feet along to. “It’s a long way to the top, but I aint ever gonna stop.” Unexpectedly again, Chris Naish takes on some Lil Mama with a “No Music”-esque verse. If the folk/garage genre doesn’t work out for Chris Naish full time, he’s got a back up career in hip hop. “Never Stop” is one of the highlights of the album with its optimistic tone yet realistic view of life. This gets 5 stars for its rating in my iTunes for sure.

The title track is refreshing in its sound and content. Faster paced the previous songs, it’s catchy and amusing. While “Light a Cigarette” puts you into an uplifted mood, “In The Ground” instantly puts you in the completely opposite mindset. Its haunting vocals bring you straight back to reality with lines like “a torn gym bag is all he needs to hide what you don’t want the world to know.” Chris Naish gives a painful performance on “In the Ground” and keeps to the raw, honest feeling throughout the Light a Cigarette EP.

“I don’t wanna live forever but I’m so scared to die” The final heartbreaking performance of Chris Naish on the Light a Cigarette EP leaves the listener fully sated. The EP ends on a poignant note and yet, there is a glimmer of hope in there. Chris Naish’s emotion filled and point blank lyrics bring to mind what every person thinks of: death, the inability to satisfy your love, dreams, and buried secrets.

Chris Naish’s natural, raw, honest sound makes this EP a refreshing listen. It does what you want from a full length album in just six songs. There is no hiding behind synthesizers and auto tune in this EP. It’s pure emotion. And it’s something you yearn to hear live.


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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (She's basically a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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